How many times have I now been to Costa Rica? I think this may have been my 13th trip, & certainly was not an unlucky number for me.
Costa Rica is like a 2nd home to me & over the 18+ years that I have been going there I have met some wonderful people, stayed @ some fabulous hotels/lodges & made some lifetime friends.
We have several clients that return to Costa Rica & as well as staying in their favourite places like to visit somewhere new. So on this trip, I wanted to do the same.
This year I took one of my very good friends, Jane. It is always nicer to have company & getting someone else’s prospective is always good – & Jane gets a lovely holiday.
We flew with British Airways on the direct flight from Gatwick & were lucky enough to be upgraded to Premium Economy – it was lovely & definitely made it a more comfortable journey.
On arrival, we went out to Chayote Lodge for our 1st night in Costa Rica. Chayote has been the dream of a friend of mine for several years. He has now made this a reality & has done a fantastic job creating this boutique, coffee-themed property. When we arrived it was dark & we thought the drive & paths were lined with large stones, turns out they were actually beautiful hydrangeas’. The hotel has 12 individual bungalows scattered around the property- all with stunning views of the central valley & San Jose below. Each bungalow is large, designed to resemble the recibidores – the coffee receiving stations & have the view from the private balcony. They have their own small coffee plantation & around the reception & restaurant area they have pictures & old equipment to show how a coffee plantation worked. What a welcome to Costa Rica & already Jane thought she was in paradise, which of course Costa Rica is.
The next morning after a lovely typical Tico breakfast we headed off to travel to Manuel Antonio. Before we left the San Jose area we popped in to see another new property – The Retreat. A lovely property & perfect for people wanting to relax doing yoga or for those interested in vegetarian cooking- as they have an open kitchen & you can have lessons with the chef. The next stop before Manuel Antonio was a visit to Macaw Lodge near Carara National Park. It seemed to be at the end of a never-ending road, but finally we arrived. This is a really good place for bird watchers & I preferred the individual bungalows to the rooms in the main building. Bungalows have their own outside space/terrace but are a bit of a walk from the main building.
Finally that day we arrive in Manuel Antonio– somewhere I have been lots of time. I really enjoy Manuel Antonio because here you can visit the national park (which is the home to many cheeky monkeys) go out to local restaurants & be able to enjoy the beach. Yes this is quite a busy area but it can be nice to include this area when you have been in very remote hotels & lodges during your trip. Jane went off to explore the National park & I went to work- doing the hotel inspections. On my very 1st visit to Costa Rica 18 years ago I stayed at Makanda by the Sea. I thought it was an amazing place back then but now it is incredible. There are new owners & they have spent a lot of money to update the property. I absolutely loved it & will definitely want to stay there on my next trip. It is ideal for couples, as all room have 1 large bed & no children are allowed. Another hotel I really liked was La Cusinga – which is south of Manuel Antonio in the area called Uvita. They have an amazing rainforest lodge with amazing ocean views, it borders the Ballena Marie National Park. There is no swimming pool but it is only a 10 minute walk down to the practically private Arco Beach. The lodge offers several tours & the rooms are rustic – meaning quite basic, but each has an amazing ocean view which you can enjoy from the balcony. I had lunch in their Gecko open sided restaurant so you can enjoy the view – the food was superb.
So after the short stay in Manuel Antonio we head back up the coast for a 2 night stay at one of my favourite hotels in Costa Rica – the Tango Mar Hotel. I love this hotel located in the Nicoya Peninsula & it was a treat to stay here for 2 nights. We travelled by road but then took the car ferry across from Puntarenas to Paquera before continuing by road to the hotel. The Tango Mar is a great beachfront property & it is so relaxing. It is worth the walk up to the viewpoint they have, the view is lovely. So I had 1 full day here so half a day was spent driving down to Mal Pais & Santa Teresa. 2 interesting properties I visited were the Flor Blanca Hotel set on the beach, outside the town of Santa Teresa & Hotel Casa Chameleon near Mal Pais. Flor Blanca is on the beach & ideal for clients that want to be near a lively, surfing town. Chameleon is ideal for honeymooners as each bungalow is very private, with their own plunge pool or swimming pool. The pool at the Tango Mar for sunset was the best end to the day.
Next we went to Rancho Humo located by the Tempisque River. I do not think I have seem so many birds in 1 area before – it was amazing. I now have a new favourite bird- the Roseate Spoonbill – it is pink, so of course I loved them. This is an really interesting place to stay.. The food is wonderful & the owner apparently has a culinary school in San Jose. Guests stay on a full board basis & it is important to note that there is no menu & no choices give. So it is very important to tell staff on arrival what foods you do not like. I am vegetarian & Jane does not eat mushrooms – so they worked around that & we both had wonderful food. The client that had already been here had told me the food was the excellent. We only had 1 night here so we had lunch on arrival, enjoyed the pool for a bit (it would be too hot to go out on the safari early afternoon) & then did the jeep safari to the wetlands to see the wildlife & birds. Going late afternoon was cooler but also a great time to see the birds flying around before settling for the night. The next morning we left by boat down the river to where we were being picked up. We always include this either as part of the transfer or as a tour whilst at the lodge – I am so pleased we do as it is wonderful & can get close to the mangroves, see the birds’ nests & we saw monkeys & crocodiles – a fab end to our stay @ Rancho Humo.
So we got off the boat where the Friendship Bridge crosses the river to Nicoya, to then go by road to the most fabulous hotel – Lagarta Lodge. We were ending our trip with 3 nights here & what a treat. Loved this hotel & is now top of my favourites list. Everything was wonderful – I was reunited with some fab friends that now work here, our suite with an amazing ocean view, the food, services, swimming pool, beaches – which they have a shuttle bus to, the nature reserve, the spa, the magnificent sunsets etc. etc. It was upsetting to leave to go back to San Jose airport for out flight home- but all good things have to come to an end – apparently!! When I was back to the office I got a message with a surprise from the staff @ Lagarta Lodge- they named a cocktail after me.. I helped devise it whilst I was there & they now have it on the cocktail menu. I was extremely proud.
So that was my latest trip to Costa Rica. It was, as usual, fabulous & Costa Rica firmly remains my most favourite destination. It is stunning, unique, diverse, beautiful, & the Tico’s are the most hospitable people you can meet.
If you would like to visit Costa Rica or return there please give me a call on 01202 232335 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org I have been travelling & selling Costa Rica for over 18 years now & can recommend the perfect areas & hotels to suit your interests & preferences.